Overfishing in France

Overfishing is a severe issue to deal with in France. Overfishing is the depletion of fish in a body of water/area of water due to fishing. The number of overfished waters has gone up 200% in the past half-century with ⅓ of studied fish being caught more than they can reproduce. On December 9, 2014, the United Nations passed resolutions that possessed significant steps in reducing overfishing. However, the delegate of the European Union was upset because not enough was said to protect marine mammals.

The resolution does do more to support data collection research. France has been in favor of the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and Related Instruments (document A/69/L.30.) One of the biggest problems with the fishing industry is that most information is on paper thus complicated to share. Also, the information that can be shared is not being shared. The United Nations Commission for Europe’s aim is to “promote standards for exchange of information related to fishery activities, share experiences on development and implementation issues, and facilitate and support the implementation of these standards worldwide.” This information standard is a significant step toward healthier waters. France is also in the European Union and is expected the end overfishing by 2020. Fishing pressure in the North East Atlantic has halved in the past 20 years, but they are still over the union standard. France has to fight the lack of information they have. Currently, less than 10% of all fisheries in Europe have an estimate for their biomass and due to different benchmarks created 24-56% of all EU fish stocks do not meet union standards. While France has gone along with the overfishing promises, it is getting nervous. France teamed up with Italy and Spain back in December of 2018 to push back the EU deadline. They want to end overfishing by 2025 instead of 2020. In addition to this France wants to reduce the number of days at sea by 10%, not 90%.

While the Mediterranean is one of the most overfished regions on the Earth, France needs more time to ease the fishing industries into the new regulations. To fix overfishing, France is willing to end overfishing in its waters by 2025 at the earliest and 2030 at the latest. France would like more information to be collected on biomass of streams in highly fished areas and for the international community to end overfishing by 2030. France is willing to give more time, till 2035, to China, Peru, Chile, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, and India due to their large number of fish that are caught every year. France would like to fund applicable NGOs such as American Cetacean Society, Endangered Seas Campaign, Greenpeace – Oceans Campaign, International Marine Mammal Association, and Marine Conservation Biology Institute.

There Aren’t Plenty of Fish in the Sea

One of the biggest threats to fisheries on a global scale is overfishing. Caused due to fish being caught at a rate faster than they can reproduce, overfishing is currently impacting more than 85% of the world’s fish resources . Overfishing typically results from a lack of oversight which causes administrators to have difficulty regulating and enforcing proper fishing activity. Another driving force behind overfishing is government funded subsidies which produce an excess in fishermen, currently estimated to be 2.5 times more than the amount needed .These factors along with the lack of adequately protected waters—with only 1.5% of the oceans designated as protected areas—cause many more fish to be caught than is optimal for the environment. Often, many of the excess fish are juveniles who have not yet reproduced, creating a fish scarcity which can be devastating for both the environment and local economies. The effects of overfishing can be disastrous for ecosystems, resulting in an imbalance of predators to prey causing a population surge in smaller fish which can in turn overwhelm coral reefs. This disruption to the ecosystem can further reduce the population of fish in an area, putting the livelihoods of local fishermen in jeopardy.

Many Greek fishermen are currently experiencing this financial insecurity as stocks in the Mediterranean, the world’s most overfished sea, continue to dwindle. According to Paraskeva Vasilakopoulos from the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research in Athens, “the vast majority of stocks” in the Mediterranean “are below safe biological limits” as a result of “overexploitation” combined with “catch[ing] too many fish before they get the chance to reproduce”. In an effort to combat overfishing, Greece has been working to reduce the number of fishermen by offering money in exchange for the fishermen giving up their fishing license and boat. Greece hopes that through this reduction in fishermen more fish will be able to spawn, reducing the scarcity of fish in the Mediterranean. Greece is also working to increase fishing surveillance with the goal of better enforcing fishing regulations in line with those in the European Union’s 2014 Common Fisheries Policy which set a maximum limit for fishing and restricted fishermen’s ability to dump extra fish into the water. In doing so, Greece believes it will cut down on the practice of bottom trawling, in which large boats drag a net along the seafloor to collect all of the fish in a particular region, which is very popular in the Mediterranean and plays a large role in the overfishing crisis. This practice not only destroys the ocean floor, but also leads to the collection of many juvenile fish that are then discarded, often meaning that these fish did not reproduce in their lifetimes. Bottom trawling alone produces 50% of all discarded fish in the Mediterranean, and, as it is frequently carried out by larger corporations, has played a large role in the instability of smaller fishermen’s businesses. Many Greek fishermen have watched their catches decrease by half as overfishing has worsened in recent years, forcing many out of the business as fishing is no longer profitable enough for them to support their families. Greece recognizes this difficulty and has also been exploring the practice of open-ocean fish farming in order to artificially spur on the fish supply until regulations can be effectively established and enforced to steady the fish population naturally. Additionally, in 2017, Greece signed the MedFish4Ever Declaration , a 10-year plan designed to manage fisheries, which Greece feels is a demonstration of its commitment to working towards the elimination of overfishing in the Mediterranean.

Indonesian Plastic Pollution

Indonesia is currently second, only to China, in the world in contribution of plastic pollution. Out of the roughly 2.41 million tons of plastic pollution in the entire ocean, 200,000 tons come from Indonesian rivers and streams. Four of Indonesia’s main rivers rank on the top 20 most polluted rivers in the world. Public water in Indonesia has become contaminated with E. Coli, fecal matter, and other dangerous pathogens. This has caused most of the water supply to be undrinkable. Because many citizens do not have access to clean water pipes, about 80% of the population is forced to consume, bath in, and use the polluted river water, daily. So far, the government has put in little effort to fund and supply clean water pipes, so people are still forced to consume contaminated water or use bottled water, which, in turn, contributes to the pollution problem. Because many Indonesian islands sit in the Indonesian Throughflow, it is common to find foreign plastics floating through these areas. Plastic waste and pollution from Malaysia, the Philippines, and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean is often brought into Indonesian waters. To combat this extreme amount of pollution, Bali officials ordered 700 cleaners and 35 trucks to collect some of the garbage on Bali beaches. While they collected many hundreds of tons of garbage, the problem still persists and is found on many more islands, not just Bali. A step that could be taken to further clean Indonesia, could be to deploy these people and trucks on multiple islands and have the government fund a longer term clean-up project. Indonesian officials say they plan to reduce plastic waste 70% by 2025, but this goal, while being extreme, could only be attainable with more government action and funding. In 2016, a trial policy to charge a fee for plastic bags in shops was set in place. This policy, while only being a trial at the time, was a step in the right direction toward reaching the goals of reducing plastic pollution by 70%. Making this policy nationwide would contribute to the solution of plastic pollution in Indonesia. Because the majority of the plastic pollution in the oceans originates on land, reducing the amount of plastic used on land in the first place will reduce the amount of pollution found in the ocean. Other policies and trials to reduce plastic waste and recycle materials have been put in place recently. One plan, to turn waste into plastic roads has proven to be an effective and successful use of recycled plastics and would be a good project to continue. The roads will use a large amount of the plastic and are an easy way to collect and eliminate the waste in the ocean. Again, more government funding would assist in promoting and progressing this project. Finally, outside help would be required to eliminate a significant amount of plastic pollution in the ocean. Due to the Indonesian Throughflow, a sum of the plastic waste in Indonesian waters originates from other countries. Efforts within those countries to reduce plastic waste or prevent the flow into Indonesian, as well as into other countries, water would be necessary in reducing the waste by 70% and would help in the overall reduction of plastic waste, worldwide.